A KPL librarian recently asked her colleagues to submit titles of books and movies that have had special meaning for us---inspiration, memory, life impact, whatever. Instantly, I thought of All Mine to Give, a movie I’d seen with my mother in the late fifties when I was about ten years old.
All Mine to Give was the wrenching story of a Scottish pioneer family that settled on the Fox River in central Wisconsin in the 1860’s. The beloved father, a logger, and his wife died in close succession, leaving six orphaned children. To keep a promise he made to his dying mother, the oldest son trekked through the snow on Christmas day seeking homes for his siblings among the families in the town. This was a tear-jerker, yet the most uplifting movie I had seen to date.
Alas, KPL did not own the film, and there could be no book because the movie was based on a story my mother had read in a magazine. Somehow I remembered the title, The Day They Gave Babies Away, and I set out to track it down. Before checking any magazine indexes, I keyed the title into the library’s catalog. I was shocked to find a matching entry, classified as an essay, written in 1947, 38 pages long. Excited but dubious, I flew down the back stairs of the library in search of 818 E88. The slim volume was dwarfed between two larger books. Inside the re-bound orange cover, the words “overflow storage” were stamped in six places. On the seventh yellowed page, I read, “this essay originally appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine.”
At home that evening, in my favorite chair, a cup of tea in hand, I read the story. It was just as I remembered the movie, but until this reading, I had no idea the tale was true. The author, Dale Eunson, wrote the brief family history to memorialize his father, his aunts and uncles and his grandparents.
At Kalamazoo Public Library, staff weed our collections vigorously and responsibly---to remove outdated material, to get rid of worn copies, to keep the collection fresh, to make room for new titles. How and why the library’s weeding machine spared this little jewel, which has been checked out just seven times since 1990, I’ll never know. I’m a strong advocate for weeding, but this time I'm glad there was clemency!
Coincidentally, All Mine to Give has just been released on DVD as part of a collection of MGM holiday classics. It’s now on order for the library. Look for it in January.
The Day They Gave Babies Away